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Inkulinati

Developer: Yaza Games

Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment

Weird
Challenging
Strategy
  • Price: $24.99
  • Release Date: Feb 22, 2024
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Last on Sale: Apr 12, 2024 [$19.99]
  • Lowest Historic Price: $19.99
  • ESRB Rating: E [Everyone]
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    A generally clever design, sense of humor, and inspired strategic play help Inkulinati stand out in the space

    When you’ve played so many indie games that it feels like they’re shooting out of your ears, you learn to appreciate those that dare to be a little different. Whether it’s in style of play, the visuals, or perhaps in some aspect of their essence, breaking away from the norm can be a good thing. I’d certainly say that’s the case for Inkulinati, a pretty complex strategy game that could easily have settled for simply having a distinctive look, but then went all in to deliver real depth and some challenge to go with it.

    What you’ll immediately notice about the game is its medieval manuscript sort of art style, the likes of which you’d see in handwritten books from a very different time. Those are distinctive enough to catch the eye, but it’s then the very unusual sense of humor the game has that shines through, which can be amusing juxtaposed with what you’d consider a more classical and serious art style. If you’re already prepared for bared butts and flatulence to be used as strategic weaponry walking in that could help, as it appears that the game embraces a “no rules” style at times in the creativity of its units and their uses. Another great element at play is that especially once you’ve unlocked a few things you’ve typically got multiple potential play styles and overall strategies you can win the day with, not just being stuck with stock strategies for success.

    In terms of some of the game’s weaknesses, whether it’s the game’s play style, sense of humor, or admittedly slow pacing it won’t be for everyone. In particular, the incredibly lengthy tutorial, measured in multiple hours, is perhaps going to be a little too thorough and helpful for strategy vets who’d rather work more out on their own, but I could see how that could also make it incredibly inviting for novices. Sure, some aspects of play are quite familiar, but there are some aspects tied to the nature and theme of the game that wouldn’t be so obvious, so having them thoroughly explained and explored doesn’t need to be a negative. Of course, you’re also free to skip over those and dig in, but there’s absolutely quite a lot going on to understand, and without some guidance you may be missing some helpful details. The fact that this is set up more with a roguelike feel rather than having a more story-driven formal campaign may also not be for everyone.

    All of that said, there’s no way to walk away from Inkulinati thinking the people behind it weren’t all in on trying their best to make it work. The art style alone could have easily sold the game, even if matched with a more traditional play style, but the investment in all of the different units and some of their amusing quirks and weirdness really help to elevate the experience to a higher level. While I appreciate the somewhat unpredictable roguelike qualities of the main style of play here, I also can see where some folks could feel left out with there not being a more traditional campaign option to pursue. Regardless, for anyone looking for a very unique experience, Inkulinati absolutely delivers on that promise, and is well worth a look.


    Justin Nation, Score:
    Nindie Choice! [8.0]
2024

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